Sketches

Brief reviews of current shows

Step Right Up! In this two-part exhibit at Studio Aiello, Denver artist David Seiler has installed a conventional art show up front and something very unusual in the back: a circus-looking tent filled with sculptures that recall sideshow attractions. A depiction of a barker with a sound track draws viewers into the tent. Seiler antiqued the sculpture so that it appears to date from the early twentieth century, which is the hypothetical time frame of his carnival, "Circus of More." Seiler is dead-on in conveying the look of agedness, with everything in the show -- even the tent itself -- appearing to be antique. The yellow- and red-striped tent was draped from the ceiling, completely transforming the room into a creepy place -- a feeling that's enhanced by the dim lighting. Arrayed around the tent are various devices such as "Prenitiscopes" -- motion picture contraptions that are hand-cranked -- as well as a fortune-telling machine and a wheel of fortune. Through November 4 at Studio Aiello, 3563 Walnut Street, 303-297-8166. Reviewed October 20.

Steve Altman and Crowded.The fall openers at the Singer Gallery of the Mizel Center are Steve Altman: Incognito and Crowded: Drawings and Collages by Elliott Green. Altman is a well-known local painter whose work combines an abstract-expressionist sensibility with depictions of recognizable things. Singer director Simon Zalkind organized the show, selecting recent paintings and older pieces that together briefly survey Altman's career. Zalkind was especially interested in Altman's take on the big themes of life and death -- and everything in between. The newer paintings feature prominent depictions of the figure, while the earlier ones tend to be more thoroughly abstract. The other, smaller show, Crowded, installed together with the Altman exhibit, highlights Green's cartoonish and somewhat Picassoid collages and drawings. The show's title refers to the fact that Green's compositions are crowded with as many figures as possible. The New York artist is fairly famous, and he was directly involved with this show, lending all of the pieces for it. Through November 6 at the Singer Gallery, Mizel Center for Arts and Culture, 350 South Dahlia Street, 303-316-6360. Reviewed October 13.

Trading Voices, et al.This juried show in the Lower Gallery at the Arvada Center was put together using a clever if obvious idea: Have a Coloradan judge the Arizona pieces, and an Arizonan pick the Colorado ones. In this case, the local was Denver Art Museum curator Dianne Vanderlip, who was matched with Marilyn Zeitlin from the Arizona State University Art Museum. The concept for the show, which compares artists from the two states, came from Arvada's gallery and museum director, Jerry Gilmore, who lived in Arizona and still maintains ties to the art scene there. Interestingly, the Colorado artists outnumber those from Arizona by a ratio of two to one. In the Upper Gallery is a site-specific piece based on artist Amy Mishkin's harrowing life experiences, titled Pivotal Experience. In the Theater Gallery is New Works on Paper, made up of prints by Chuck McCoy that combine fine art and commercial processes. Trading Voices runs through November 21, Pivotal Experience through November 13, New Works on Paper through November 20, all at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, 720-898-7200.

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